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Shop local this season

            This past weekend was Small Business Saturday, and the weekend before that the Holiday Market was held at Chattahoochee Tech in Jasper. They’re both great reminders to support our small local businesses while you do your Christmas shopping this season.

            We might run the risk of sounding like a broken record, but every year we feel an obligation to encourage people (including ourselves) to shop local for the holidays – which is increasingly more of a challenge in the face on online megaliths like Amazon and its oh-so-temping Prime delivery service.

            A look at Amazon spending over the years puts the change in our shopping habits in stark perspective. Statistica reports that in 2004 Amazon’s net sales were $6.29 billion. By 2012 that number was up to $61.09 billion. By 2017 it was up to $177.87 billion, then $232.89 billion in 2018; $280.52 billion in 2019; $386.06 billion in 2020; and $469.82 billion in 2021. With over $100 billion in growth between 2019 and 2020, and around $84 billion between the next two years (fueled in part because of the pandemic), Amazon is capturing more and more of all retail purchases.

            We’re not being puritanical, and we realize some items you just can’t get from a small business in Pickens County, and online ordering or driving to a different city is necessary. The men’s clothing options here are scant, and it’s not likely you’ll find that perfect K-POP band hoodie for your teenage daughter, musical accoutrement for the musician in your life, or even name brand athletic gear.              There are limitations, we know, but we have so many one-of-a-kind small businesses that will add a special touch to your holiday giving, and who we wholeheartedly believe we need to support.

            Without these businesses who take financial risks, and who work to bring unique shopping experiences and handcrafted items to our community, we’d be left with a bunch of boring chain stores that sell the same stuff everyone else has. Where’s the fun in that?

            • Instead of a salad bowl from China, get one from a local woodworker, potter or one of our local home décor stores.

            • Instead of a gift card to Red Lobster or Starbucks, get one from a local restaurant or coffee shop.

            • Instead of a candle or lotion from Bath & Body Works, go to the farmers market.

            • Instead of tools or plants from Home Depot, consider our smaller hardware stores or nurseries.

            It’s also fun to think outside the box and give gifts that aren’t out of the standard playbook. Antique stores, which we have several of, are chock full of fun and unique gifts, and there are tons of artists and craftspeople where you can get something truly unique at the weekly farmers market in Lee Newton park.

            A local artist who is a vendor there, and whose art is her full-time job, made a post on Facebook on Small Business Saturday: “Today means so much to your local small business. This year, instead of buying a gift on Amazon or a large retail store purchase something from a local small business. By doing that you’re fueling their dream, or helping them pay their bills. Whatever it may be, everything that comes from my shop and others is made with love and a lot of hard work!”

            She and others tagged local businesses, which was just the tip of the iceberg of all the small businesses this county has to offer.

            We don’t want to be preachy (and if we sound preachy we’re preaching to ourselves, too), but we do want to support our community by shopping local. Not only does it help them survive, it gives our community character and increases local sales tax revenue, which funds local projects.

            You can’t get some things here, but there is so much you can get and  that will make your holiday brighter and make you feel good about your purchase.

            This season let’s shop local.

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